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Tan Diego

Study shows tanning facilities outnumber Starbucks, McDonald's

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    Tan Diego
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    A San Diego State University study points to a proliferation of tanning beds and warns of overusage.

    A San Diego State University study points to a proliferation of tanning beds and warns of overusage.

    The best joke about the proliferation of Starbucks coffeehouses came from The Onion, where a headline once declared: "Starbucks Opens Store in Own Bathroom."

    The only chain more entrenched in our consumer affairs must be McDonald's, right? Well, hold on to your Speedos: A recent survey of 116 U.S. cities reveals there are more tanning salons than Starbucks or Micky D's. The study was done by Professor Joni Mayer and her team at San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health. Mayer contends that an abundance of facilities promotes usage.

    "Even though it's linked to melanoma and squamous cell cancer, young adults use indoor tanning facilities at a high rate," Mayer said.

    The U.S. city in the study with the highest density of tanning salons is Charleston, West Virginia. With 18 facilities and a population of 53,000, that's a density of 33.7 per 100,000. In 2006 (the year used by the study), there was only one Starbucks and seven McDonald's.

    Despite its sunny reputation, San Diego has 90 tanning facilities. That compares to 78 Starbucks and 54 McDonald's. New York City has 183 tanning salons. Both cities have relatively low density rates.

    "If you start to look for tanning salons, you'll see them on every corner," Mayer said. "These places have a lot of tanning beds to fill. They can be dangerous, especially for young people. Skin cancer shows up later. Parents need to be aware."

    Serious advice. My contemporaneous concern is that Starbucks gets word of this study and starts opening stores in tanning salons.

    God forbid McDonald’s starts installing tanning beds.

    Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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